The sports car driving experience is achieved by reducing roll and pitch, flattening the cornering attitude, and subsequently instilling confidence-inspiring steering.
Peter Cambridge comments: “Our painstaking work with the spring set-up controls exactly how much the car pitches and rolls with every lump, bump, camber and pothole on our roads. Then we developed the dampers to control the rate at which the springs respond. Once we were satisfied with that, we set about really affecting the feel and response of the steering to inspire confidence.”
To reduce roll and pitch and achieve an even flatter cornering attitude, Prodrive commissioned bespoke Eibach coil springs and Bilstein dampers.
Spring rates are increased by over 50 per cent compared to the standard Alfa Brera, giving the car a more nimble and agile feel, while the specially tuned gas-filled mono-tube dampers give tighter body control. A careful balance has been created to maintain good compliance over ridges and bumps in the road.
At the same time, the suspension static geometry has also been revised to optimise steering and handling. These changes, together with new 19” alloy wheels and Pirelli PZero Nero tyres, have created a more responsive turn-in to corners, with increased driver feedback, allowing the driver to explore the dynamic limits of the car.
To further enhance suspension geometry, the cars have been lowered by 10 mm front and rear. This lower centre of gravity helps reduce roll and improve cornering and braking performance. In addition, the lowered suspension gives the Alfa Brera S a more purposeful stance.
At each corner of the Alfa Brera S, unique Alfa 8C Competizione-inspired, lightweight 19” alloy wheels have been fitted. Although the wheels are eye-catching, the all-new design was commissioned by Prodrive primarily for performance, rather than just cosmetic appeal. The reason is unsprung weight – the weight carried by the car on the ‘road side’ of the spring and shock absorber. This plays a significant role in the way the car steers, handles and transmits feedback to the driver.
The lighter the wheel, the better it tracks undulations in the road surface without requiring heavy damping to control it. The unsprung weight has been further reduced by the adoption of hollow anti-roll bars and aluminium suspension components from the Factory.
As a result, the weight of both Alfa Brera S models is lower than the rest of the range. The front-wheel drive 3.2 V6 JTS is almost 100 kg lighter than the Q4 version and the 2.2 JTS version weighs 35 kg less.
The Alfa Brera S also sounds different from the standard range. The original characteristic growl of the V6 has been enhanced by careful redesign of the rear silencers. Thanks to a Holmholtz resonator connected in tandem with each silencer, the 2.2 JTS model now emits a sportier yet refined burble.
The exhaust has been altered to mirror the shape of the rear lights. Finished with chrome embellishers, they feature a Prodrive logo on the tailpipe exterior. This is just one of several subtle exterior enhancements to the award-winning Alfa Brera, including Prodrive branded front stone deflectors, and a bespoke red ‘S’ or ‘SV6’ on the C-pillar.
Inside the 3.2 V6 JTS Alfa Brera S, changes are more obvious. Not only are the supportive sports seats upholstered in soft black Frau leather with red stitching, so are the dashboard fascia, door panels, steering wheel and gearlever. The centre console and instruments are faced in a dark finish. This interior can also be specified on the 2.2 JTS version.
Foot pedals are fashioned from drilled aluminium and the headrest recess houses a limited edition Brera S aluminium plate, featuring the flags of Italy and Britain.
For the record, the 2.2 JTS and 3.2 V6 JTS Alfa Brera S can reach 62 mph from rest in 8.6 and 7.0 seconds respectively, on the way to maximum speeds of 139 and 155 mph.
The transition from Alfa Brera to Brera S takes place at Alfa Romeo UK’s dedicated import centre, near Bristol, and is overseen by Prodrive.
Nicholas Bernard says: “The standard Brera is well loved and delivers a great all-round driving experience. But the Alfa Brera S is deliberately honed, tuned and fettled for British roads and aimed directly at a dedicated audience of driving enthusiasts.”Published 20 May 2008